Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mystery Item No 7

Up for a few days here is another mystery item. Can you guess what it is?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Adopt a Museum

So the museum has just been adopted!

Adopt a Museum is a site where people can 'adopt' their favorite or a deserving museum. The twist is that the museum can't be a well known museum or one that regularly features in Top Ten Museum lists, so no British Museum or the Louvre. As the website states, you don't actually adopt the museum, their is no sponsorship or money involved, you just become a champion for that museum. You can read more about Adopt a Museum and apply to adopt your favorite museum here- Museums can be adopted all around the world, so far museums in Asia, Switzerland, Canada, America and Wales have been featured. What a fantastic way to give a bit of help to these smaller museums who are often missed!  

The Museum of Dartmoor Life got adopted this week, so thank you! We are glad to see that people enjoy coming to the museum, that they think we have lots to do and that we are good value for money. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Family Fun Day

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to all those who came along to our family fun day on Saturday the 4th August. 

We had a range of activities available this day- from dressing up in Victorians and Bronze Age costumes, making your own mosaics and bracelets, being a spy for the day and guess the mystery objects.

We hope you all had a great time and we look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

August Devonian

August’s famous Devonian is Thomas Newcomen (24th February 1664 – 5th August 1792). Born in Dartmouth he was an inventor, most famous for the first practical steam engine, which was invented in 1712.

Newcomen's house in Dartmouth.[1]

Newcomen established himself as an ironmonger in his hometown. Some of his customers were Cornish tin mine owners who faced difficulties when their mines flooded. The methods to remove the water, such as buckets on a rope, were slow and laborious so an alternative method was sought. Newcomen was aware of the high costs involved with using horse power to pump water, so he went into partnership with Thomas Savery, an English inventor, to try to find a solution.[2]  Savery had already created a steam engine and had obtained numerous patents, alongside this this association Newcomen manufactured engines of his own design.[3] Newcomens pump used a vacuum inside a cylinder, which pulled down a piston, a lever was then used to transfer the force to the pump shaft that went down the mine.[4] 

Newcomen's first working engine was installed at Dudley Castle in Staffordshire in 1712. It had 'a cylinder 21 inches in diameter and nearly eight feet long, and it worked at 12 strokes per minute, raising ten gallons of water from a depth of 156 feet- approximately 5.5 horse power'.[5] Newcomen's engine had a massive effect, not only was it innovative in its water pumping ability, but the engine also 'demonstrated the profound effect machines could have on production'.[6] LTC Rolt's book on Newcomen, Thomas Newcomen: The Prehistory of Steam was published in 1963 and sums up his achievement, 'in the whole history of technology it would be difficult to find a greater single advance than this, nor one with a greater significance for all humanity'.[7]

Relavitvely little is known about Newcomen's later life. By the time of his death in 1792 over 100 of his engines had been installed in the mining districts of Britain.[8] Newcomen died on the 5th August 1792 and was buried in Bunhill Fields, London, although the exact location is unknown. 

[1] Grace's Guide British Industrial History, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2007. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012).
[2] Start Your Engines, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2012. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012). 
[3] Start Your Engines, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2012. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012). 
[4] BBC, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2012. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012). 
[5] BBC, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2012. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012). 
[6] Hero's, 'The Top 100 Hero's of Western Culture', 2009. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012).
[7] Grace's Guide British Industrial History, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2007. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012).
[8] Grace's Guide British Industrial History, 'Thomas Newcomen', 2007. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 28/07/2012).